ST. PETERSBURG TIMES sports media critic Tom Jones reports this week on the astonishing conflict of interest involving CBS announcer Jim Nantz for this Sunday’s AFC Championship game telecast:
(Not the commercial. I think. Wait, maybe it is. Help!)
How in the world can CBS let NFL announcer Jim Nantz do a television commercial with Colts quarterback Peyton Manning? The two are in an ad for Sony televisions. Nantz calls games in which Manning plays and will call next weekend’s AFC Championship Game in which Manning will play.
Why should we trust anything Nantz has to say about Manning ever again? Even if Nantz has every right to defend Manning after a play, why should we believe him after assuming the two hung out together and socialized during a commercial shoot? It’s a blatant conflict that CBS shouldn’t have allowed and Nantz shouldn’t have agreed to do.
Delusional fans are already conspiratorial enough when it comes to announcers without CBS allowing Nantz to yuk it up with the best player on the field during the telecast.
Richard Deitsch of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED followed up on Jones’ piece by getting reax from Nantz.
“I don’t think that is anything new and I don’t think I’m the first guy to do that. If anyone is going to think for one second that I am going to be influenced and call a game tilted in favor in one favor of one team, I mean that has never happened in my career.
“You can write something that create some really good energy and excitement and get some reaction and try to stir some sort of synthetic controversy but there is not one that exists…Twenty-five years in my career that has never been a factor so I’m not concerned about it all.”
Nantz is being paid well into seven figures by CBS to do one thing: give an objective game call. Is it too much to ask for Nantz to not be seen hamming it up with the best player on the field during the broadcast?
The only reason Nantz is on the broadcast is to perform his job in the context of a detached observer. Doing a commercial with a player who is playing in the game he’s calling is clearly inappropriate - whether Nantz is the first guy to do it or not. It also devalues his profession, turning the PBP guy into a less-than-credible observer.
Nantz was right though when he said,”Twenty-five years in my career that has never been a factor.”
Right. Because he’s never done it before.
To be fair, what Nantz is doing is only symptomatic of what goes on every single day in sports media. Because of incestuous financial arrangements between media companies and leagues, objectivity for the majority of sports media is extinct. (Not all, I know.)
ESPN reaps hundreds of millions in revenue from its relationship with the NFL yet we’re supposed to believe what ESPN “reports” about its business partner on SportsCenter?
The concept of what Nantz is doing is far from new. But Nantz’s defensive, baseless denial to what is a gratuitous conflict of interest is nevertheless an instructive moment.
Enjoy, Jets fans.